INDIANAPOLIS — One in four dogs are diagnosed with canine cancer in their lives. It's a sad thing for families, but it gets even more complicated when the owners face thousands of dollars for treatment.
For many families, the money to treat the illness is a luxury they don't have. That is where a local organization called "Fur The Brand" steps in.
Samantha MacAfee founded the nonprofit two years ago after her family's own struggles with canine cancer.
"My dog Valerie has gone through canine cancer four times. So within that, I wanted to help other families going through it," McAfee said. "The financial burden, the stress of not knowing that your child is going to be OK...I came up with Fur the Brand to relieve the financial burden for the pet parent while the animal gets the care that they need."
McAfee is married to former Colts punter Pat MacAfee. He now hosts the popular "Pat McAfee Show" that broadcasts to fans all across the United States.
The show offers a great platform for his wife's passion project. It has helped more than 55 dogs in 20 states since its inception. They've already raised over $132,000 to help families dealing with canine cancer.
Until recently, McAfee had never met any of the families or pups that Fur the Brand has helped.
Adrienne Sparks received financial help from Fur the Brand to pay for cancer treatments for her fur baby, 10-year-old Leo. The diagnosis for Sparks and her husband was devastating, but they knew they would do whatever they could to save Leo, despite the cost.
"He started limping, so we got X-rays and that was in February before his 10th birthday," Sparks said. "It looked abnormal, so we did a biopsy, and then within a week or two he had an amputation. And then started chemotherapy. It's been expensive."
Sparks said the amputation was about $3,000, and the chemotherapy was even more. She heard about Fur the Brand listening to the "Pat McAfee Show" and knew she had to give it a try.
McAfee said the average cost of treatment is about $10,000, but radiation can cost up to $30,000 for some families because it's ongoing. The organization strives to make the process to get help as easy as possible for pet owners facing such difficult news.
For families hoping to receive financial aid, the process is as simple as filling out an online application. If accepted, the money for the treatment goes directly to the account at the vet's office.
Fur the Brand is based online and raises money through community events. McAfee said it's amazing how many people and organizations want to help.
"The good thing about Indiana is all these small businesses like to help other small businesses," McAfee said. In addition to the "Pat McAfee Show," they've depended on other Indiana-based companies like Three Dog Bakery and Graham Rahal Performance for support.
Fur the Brand raises money through online auctions and local fundraisers, including the upcoming Poochella event. The fundraiser is at White River State Park on Aug. 27.